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Old 07-24-2022, 06:55 PM   #1
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Default Anxiety and Loneliness despite good family life

I had an alcoholic father who passed away 9 years ago. My childhood was essentially miserable other than what I tried to do for myself. My parents had no friends and almost never hosted other families, nor did we go anywhere as a family. I've come to terms with this in recent years and found a wonderful counsellor. I struggle with friendships and never trusted other people fully, or trusted that they truly cared about me. I have worked through this extensively but it never really goes away. I have extreme anxiety about our family and our social interactions (I am married with two teens and a preteen). My husband is a bit introverted and doesn't care about get-togethers really, but enjoys himself when we have them or go to them. He is just happy to be with our family of five. I realize now that I probably married him as that was somewhat familiar to me. He is not an alcoholic in any form and we have a good relationship, but the socializing is in my court. We have a few families we enjoy spending time with, but only a couple are close with us. I find this stressful, because it's Summer and seems like everyone is traveling and visiting with other families and we don't do that as much. It is triggering for me, even though I rationally do see that it is very different from my upbringing. I tend to get lonely and feel unwanted by friends, and then panic that I am setting my kids up for the same isolation I felt. I also tend to get old feelings of panicky loneliness and embarrassment which I felt as a child. I was always lonely and embarrassed, and felt I wasn't good enough to be included. My husband is supportive and tries to set things up, but he truly does not place a lot of value on socializing. My kids are fairly social, one especially, and seem to have healthy friendships which I am grateful for. I have developed new friendships over the years with other women who I really love and respect and it's mutual. But something is still stuck there in my chest and leaves me sad. Would love anyone's thoughts.
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Old 07-25-2022, 12:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: Anxiety and Loneliness despite good family life

I am sorry that you are suffering. Anxiety and frustrated wishes are a real form of suffering. I know this not just theoretically but from personal experience.

Although our lives are hardly identical, I also experience and struggle with anxiety and frustrated desires. And loneliness. So I really, really feel for you.

Since I am not a psychotherapist or medical professional of any kind, I am totally unqualified to offer you advice. But maybe I could share something that helped me personally in similar situations as the kind you are going through.

But of course maybe it wouldn't be helpful to you and might even be a waste of your time.

In any case, I will share because lots of people read these Forums and perhaps my experience would be helpful to someone. Deep apologies in advance if my words are not at all helpful you!

I was once in a situation where I had a highly contagious illness which at the time was thought to be terminal. As a consequence I was in quarantine in my house and my only connection to others was the telephone and internet, basically.

Since I was single I was all alone. To say I struggled with feelings of profound loneliness and frustrated desires would be an understatement I think. I felt trapped and tortured not only by the illness but by the consequence of it.

Since it was a rare illness, there really wasn't available to me any online Forums where I could share with fellow sufferers.

So I was forced to find substitutes for what was missing in my life.

I found myself stuck in a kind of "could be better, but isn't better" frame of mind. I was always looking at the things in my life and thinking "could be better, isn't" Through reading books I realized that this attitude generally produced a certain set of feelings and moods: disappointment, frustration, anger, hopelessness, unhappiness and sometimes even guilt."

But I learned that there is another way of looking at things, looking at the very same things: "could be worse but isn't worse." This attitude is one which I think perhaps does not come naturally to us human beings, but I found I was able to cultivate it.

I found that this attitude generated quite different feelings and moods: feelings of being blessed or lucky, feelings of gratitude, feelings of appreciation, feelings of peacefulness and joy.

I think now, rightly or wrongly, that anyone's life can be looked at either way: "could be better, but isn't" or "could be worse, but isn't."

Even with my illness I found that I could be worse off. Things could be worse. I could be trapped in a burning building with no means of escape and only the prospect of a painful demise. I could be stranded in a desert with no food, no water and no shade. I could have the Ebola virus. I could have the illness I have but have this illness in a poor country where I would not have access to sufficient medical help or other amenities.

So I found that I was able to have peace from my anxiety and joy of living in the midst of my situation. Of course, the ideal solution to a frustrated wish, desire or need is to find a way to satisfy it through ordinary or creative means. Psychotherapists can sometimes help one with these kinds of things. But I am not one of those.

In any case, I was able to go from being the kind of person who I think native English speaking people say "has attitude" to being the kind of person who had gratitude. Not that this process was easy or a bed of roses. Not that I didn't occasionally fall back into anxiety and depressed feelings. I also found that there are medical treatments for anxiety and depression.

Something else I found was that having some mission in life, some life goal helped me a lot.

So I decided in my quarantined situation to reach out to others on Forums like this one. Since I was not a medical professional I would not try to diagnose or treat people. So what could I do? I felt I could just try to offer people a few words of encouragement or consolation, a few words of understanding and compassion. And I found that this gave me a reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

Sometimes it is heroic just to bear with suffering we cannot escape from. Sometimes it is heroic not only to do newsworthy feats of heroism but little acts of kindness towards others done with great love. I think that perhaps many people can bear with any situation if they have a mission in life and a reason to live.

A friend of mine, an elderly woman joined a Friends of the Library group in our town. On any day she can go downtown and help sort books that people donate to the library so as to help raise money for public libraries. This helps with her loneliness too since she has made many friends there and they all kind of look out for each other.

I know a homeless woman who lives under a roadway bridge. Each day she begs for money for food. Some days she makes enough to have a motel room for the night. But she also a mission in life. She takes a percentage of any money she receives through begging and puts it in those charity boxes that are in gas stations and convenience stores; charities such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital, the March of Dimes, the Red Cross and so on. This gives her a way of transcending and transforming the miseries of her life into something beautiful for others.

I am not against changing things for the better when that is possible and desirable. Sometimes the best solution to loneliness and frustrated desires is finding ways of solving them. But I think it is possible to have a rich and fulfilled life no matter what life throws at you. Maybe I am wrong. I am often wrong about things.

I think sometimes we are lonely because we don't love ourselves enough. This is certainly true of me. Maybe this is idiosyncratic and something that shouldn't be generalized.

When we little and are loved by others we learn to love ourselves. Sadly some children for whatever reason are deprived of this and can become chronically lonely. Often what we "miss" in loneliness is self-love. Often what we perhaps want is for others to love us so that we can love ourselves again. Maybe this is just psychobabble. I must confess that it is just something I read.

In any case, I hope you find solutions or substitutions for what is missing in your life. Because suffering can be so awful. I also hope that many people will read your post today and respond to it. And I further hope they will have better and truly more helpful words for you than my poor words.

Thank you for posting what you did. It helps me and will help many other people feel less isolated and alone with their troubles!

Sincerely yours, Yao Wen
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Old 07-27-2022, 08:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: Anxiety and Loneliness despite good family life

Welcome to msf, Scout33
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